Today I got one of those emails I have been dreading. My great aunt has died. I know that sounds like a distant relative, but in many ways she took on the role of grandmother to me. I'm incredibly grateful that the last time I spoke to her she was telling me that she was proud of me for doing well, and for coming here and studying, and experiencing things she could only dream of. And I am really grateful to be doing this, and so I can't really justify wishing I was closer to home right now, even though I do.
So in addition to that special little legacy, I thought I'd just record a few of the things I will always associate with my great aunt are my memories of her beautiful garden, which was a wonderland to me as a child: labyrinthine, filled with the biggest nasturtiums, robust agapanthus (offspring of which now reside in my garden in Johannesburg, and my parent's garden in the Drakensberg), a huge gingko tree, a sweet-scented Jacaranda, the flowers of which she would allow to stay on the driveway as they fell, because she loved the colour, violets with leaves that covered my two hands together, and a statue of Wendy; the beautiful wedding cakes she used to decorate, with brightly coloured icing flowers she once showed me how to make; enourmous, rich, desperately unhealthy, and completely irresistible meals that we always left loaded with take-home leftovers. I think in her home I experienced the style of hospitality and family-centered sociality that I most strongly associate with Afrikaner culture.